Maligne Lake was my introduction to Rockies way back in 1992; still remember the excitement I felt walking Schaffer Loop still not knowing how that little walk will shape rest of my life. Needless to say I am very particular to the area & even if it is one of largest tourist traps in the Rockies it is still very special; no visit to Jasper can go by without driving up to the lake.
Bald Hills is delightful alpine on west side of the Lake. Good trail, in fact old forest road leads effortlessly to the alpine. I've been there before, but on the eve of Tonquin backpack I thought I'd revisit. Trailhead is shared with Skyline, ~1km from main tourist parking & lodge. Loop of a sort is possible; Patton&Robinson advise heading up on the road and descending via the shortcut trail but I found that shortcut quite tedious & would rather ascend that way. At any rate you exit to alpine within an hour and then you can go as far as you like. There are several bumps but just like the first time I went here ~10 yrs ago I followed main artery across some delightful meadows to "Bald Highpoint" that had sizeable cairn. It is real shame it was hazy, because in late afternoon / early evening when sun casts that 45 degree angle this is such a superb viewpoint of Maligne area. Mozzies were quite bad - taste of things to come next several days in Tonquin. Some photos:
[Pano looking south upon exiting to alpine, just over an hour via longer route]
[Trail through the meadows towards "Bald Highpoint" stays below first bump]
[Pano of Maligne Lake corridor from ridge just below Highpoint]
[Large cairn at "Bald Highpoint". It is possible to drop on the other side and wonder aimlessly for many hours]
[View down to Maligne Lake from "Bald Highpoint". Note beautiful little tarn tucked in alpine bowl below]
[Hiking back through great Rockies summertime meadowland on return]
Took 4.5 hrs return with 16km total distance and ~700m vertical. Usual Map and Elevation Profile:
Regardless of your interest and level, I highly recommend this little trail. Try to visit on a crisp autumn day and if you have full day even better as there is much room for further wondering.
Full report with high-res photos and GPS Track download link here